Young, Seager lift Mariners into Wild Card tie

Starter's solid start, lively bats combine to heat up race

Young, Seager lift Mariners into Wild Card tie

SEATTLE -- It's taken much of the season for the Mariners to finally push their record over .500 at Safeco Field, but Kyle Seager and Chris Young have enjoyed the home cooking all along.

Seager belted his 15th home run at Safeco on Tuesday, while Young continued his strong pitching in his home park as Seattle topped Toronto, 6-3, and moved into a tie with the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot in the American League standings.

A large contingent of Blue Jays fans made the trek from Canada and turned Safeco Field into a largely pro-Toronto atmosphere, but the Mariners have one of the best road records in baseball at 31-23 and seemed unfazed by the unusual environment as they improved their home record to 33-32.

"It has a lot to do with the fans," Seager said after the Mariners hiked their record to 7-1 on the homestand. "There's been a lot of excitement in the ballpark. We've been playing hard and giving it our best, but there's been a different buzz, the fans have been louder and it's been a lot of fun playing out there."

With the Tigers losing in Pittsburgh, the Mariners moved into a tie for final playoff berth in the AL at 64-55. Seattle has already clinched the series with one game remaining Wednesday night against the Blue Jays, who dropped to 63-58 by losing for the eighth time in their past 11 games.

Seager has been money at home all season, with 15 of his 18 homers and 51 of his team-leading 73 RBIs coming at Safeco Field. The All-Star third baseman went 2-for-4 to put his home average at .339, compared with .211 on the road.

Young has been equally at home in Safeco, improving to 8-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 13 starts at the Seattle ballpark this year. The 6-foot-10 right-hander allowed two hits and one run in six innings, improving his season totals to 11-6 with a 3.20 ERA.

The 11 wins equal Young's best since an 11-5 season in 2006 with San Diego and the veteran is enjoying every step of his comeback season.

"We've got a great group of guys, a great coaching staff and we believe in one another," said Young. "We play the game the right way, show up every day prepared and go out and give our best effort. When you have a group of guys that believe in one another, special things can happen."

Young seemed in trouble out of the chute with a four-pitch leadoff walk, followed by a ringing RBI double to right-center by Melky Cabrera. But the big right-hander corrected course quickly and retired the next 14 batters before a double by Juan Francisco in the fifth for his only other hit allowed before being replaced by Charlie Furbush in the seventh.

"He shut 'em down pretty good after that," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "I thought he threw extremely well. It was tough taking him out at 95 pitches, but we have to stay with our game plan and our bullpen has been so good. It just made sense to do that."

The Mariners haven't allowed more than three runs in any of their 11 games in August, with that 11-game run setting a club record and tying for the fourth-longest stretch by any AL team since 2000.

"We're putting up historical type of numbers," said McClendon, whose club's 2.97 ERA is on pace to be the first sub-3.00 mark for a season since the World Series champion A's in 1974. "We don't take that lightly. Our guys are good and my hat's off to them. But they've worked their tails off to get there. It doesn't come easy."

Toronto scored twice off reliever Brandon Maurer in the eighth to cut the lead to 5-3 before Joe Beimel got out of that frame. Seattle then pushed across an insurance tally with an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth and Fernando Rodney closed out the ninth for his 34th save.

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales hit his first home run since being acquired by the Mariners on July 24, a solo shot leading off the sixth for a 5-1 lead, and added a double in the eighth. Dustin Ackley had a key two-run single in the fourth and Logan Morrison went 2-for-3 with a double, extending his hitting streak to 13 games, which ties his career best set in 2011 while with the Marlins.

"That game came down to Ackley's big hit right there," said Toronto skipper John Gibbons. "They have a good pitching staff, but we have to score for ours. [J.A.] Happ wasn't bad, but he wasn't good enough. We couldn't solve Young. We couldn't make any adjustments. We came out of the gates, we left that runner on that third, a big second run, that happens. But he basically shut us down the rest of the way and top to bottom they have a pitching staff that's one of the best in baseball."

It all added up to McClendon's 400th career victory and he was rewarded with a beer shower in the clubhouse by a happy group of players who are finding themselves in playoff contention in mid-August.

"Lloyd has done an unbelievable job," said Young. "He's one of the best managers and people I've been around in this game. Certainly to contribute on a big night for him is special. I'm extremely happy for him and hopefully there's a lot more for him to come."

McClendon hopes so as well, declining to get too caught up in No. 400.

"I'll talk to you when I get to 1,000," he said.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.